Idris Elba joins the Fast & Furious franchise this summer as the villain Brixton in the spinoff film Hobbs & Shaw. While he is a welcome addition to the franchise, Fast & Furious isn’t quite the franchise many fans have in mind for Idris Elba. I’m talking of course about James Bond, and Idris Elba’s inextricable association with the 007 role. Interestingly, Hobbs & Shaw may have cut a joke about Idris Elba’s James Bond.
In the trailers for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Idris Elba’s villain Brixton opens his arms wide, beckoning his foes to test him and says “I’m black Superman.” But as appropriate as that line is, it seems that the line may have originally been something along the lines of “I’m the black James Bond.” This joke would have obviously been a winking reference to Idris Elba’s James Bond that never was and presumably never will be.
Those involved all seem to have slightly different recollections of events, but Dwayne Johnson told Variety that Idris Elba declined to say the James Bond joke. He apparently didn’t want the joke referencing his non-casting as 007 because he saw it as too close to the actual conversation people are having about him in the role. Therefore the line was cut and they had to come up with a new line to replace it.
There is some dispute among Idris Elba, Dwayne Johnson, producer Hiram Garcia and seemingly everyone else involved as to whether or not there was a James Bond joke and especially who came up with the black Superman line. Assuming Dwayne Johnson’s version of events is accurate, it is understandable that Idris Elba would not want a joke referencing him as James Bond.
Fans have been lobbying for Idris Elba to take over for Daniel Craig as the next James Bond for years, and despite his repeated denials that it’s happening, the conversations continue unabated. He has spoken about his interest in the role and how disheartening the pushback against his potential casting by some people has been, so you can see how a joke about the situation might be a bit of a soft spot for him.
So Idris Elba nixed the Bond joke because it was too close to the discussion surrounding him and you could also make the argument that it would sort of take audiences out of the movie a bit, referencing this meta thing happening in the real world. Plus, the black Superman line is ultimately better, regardless of who came up with it (both Idris Elba and Dwayne Johnson claim ownership).
The black Superman line in the trailer, along with the first look at Brixton’s abilities signaled that the rules no longer applied and that the Fast & Furious franchise would now be dabbling in superpowers. While Brixton may be engaging in clandestine behavior befitting a spy, his most notable feature is his powers and those are what is highlighted by referencing Superman. Plus, “I’m the black James Bond” doesn’t quite roll of the tongue the way “I’m black Superman” does.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw opens in theaters on August 2. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all the biggest movies still to come this year.